Power utility Eskom and the Netherlands Embassy have signed a letter of intent to guide the next phase of collaboration between the two parties.
In the next phase of the collaboration, Eskom and the Netherlands Embassy, supported by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency, intend to work along two tracks – prefeasibility for a climate-smart, labour-intensive agricultural/horticulture development on the Grootvlei power station site and an integrated and sustainable approach for repurposing of the Grootvlei power station site.
"Eskom’s Just Energy Transition (JET) office places equal importance on the ‘transition to lower carbon technologies,’ and the ability to do so in a manner that is ‘just.’
"Eskom is, therefore, committed to ensuring that the socioeconomic and environmental benefits of transitioning are realised, that employees and communities are involved in finding the solutions and that the transition does not exacerbate the already high unemployment rate in our country but results in a net increase in sustainable jobs," the utility notes in a July 28 media statement.
The State-owned company says it is keen to assess all options for repurposing its sites to ensure greater community involvement, innovative revenue creation and upliftment of the socioeconomic standing of the areas surrounding those sites.
The Netherlands too is committed to combatting climate change and the embassy says it supports the JET in South Africa.
In keeping with this drive for alternative employment and economic development opportunities from both parties, in 2021, the embassy embarked on grant-funded agricultural-related studies at the Grootvlei power station.
The embassy drew on the expertise of the territorial development team of the Netherlands Enterprise Agency, given its expertise in the development of integrated territorial development approaches in the Netherlands and abroad.
The aim of the study is to determine the most applicable climate-smart, labour-intensive farming and agricultural related repurposing opportunities for the Grootvlei power station site, to create a positive social, economic and environmental impact on the surrounding area, whilst ensuring local community involvement and empowerment. These repurposing opportunities will be employed in addition to the renewable energy repowering options that are currently being assessed for the site.
These activities are complementary and fulfil the aim of Eskom’s JET strategy to meet both decarbonisation and socioeconomic goals.
The collaboration thus far has resulted in a Geographical Information Systems study of the Grootvlei area, a repurposing options assessment, a preliminary situational analysis of the property by horticulture experts, and soil and water quality analyses by specialists.